Pregnancy Week 1 and 2

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Learn about
your symptoms and changes during the 1st & 2nd weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Week 1

During the first two weeks of pregnancy you will probably be eagerly awaiting the opportunity to start counting down your pregnancy.

The countdown begins – 280 days until your estimated due date in 40 weeks. The average length of a normal pregnancy is 280 days (or 40 weeks), and it starts with the first day of your last menstrual period.
On day 1 of pregnancy week 1, you just started your period. You’re bleeding, so there is no possible way that you’ve conceived (and you won’t actually conceive for another two weeks). Keep track of this monumental date, however, since this is the date that doctors use to pinpoint your estimated due date (EDD). If you are serious about conceiving, use this week to start planning your pregnancy.

Video: How to Calculate Baby's Due Date


 

Your Menstrual Cycle:
Why You Should Keep Track of It

Now that you’re trying to conceive, you have to pay attention to your menstrual cycle and the changes in your body during the month. You need to be tracking your menstrual cycle, if you haven’t already. This means keeping tabs of when your period starts, how many days it lasts, and the average length of your cycles. All of this information can help you pinpoint your ovulation and your most fertile period during the month.

What Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle?

Every month, your body prepares itself for pregnancy. Your uterus grows a new endometrium (lining of the uterus) to get ready for a fertilized egg. If no egg is fertilized, the uterus will shed the endometrium and you will have your period. Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period, and it ends the day before you have your next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but this can vary. You may have a cycle that’s only 21 days, or 35 days, and this is perfectly normal. If you’re a teenager, an average cycle can last up to 45 days (over a month and a half!).
Hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, affect your menstrual cycle. During the first half of your menstrual cycle, the levels of estrogen begin to rise. Estrogen makes the lining of the uterus grow and thicken to prepare your body to receive a fertilized egg. While this is occurring, an egg (called an “ovum”) in one of your ovaries is starting to mature. On day 14 of a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, the mature egg is released from the ovary. This is called ovulation.

{Helpful Tip}

You have the highest chance of getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex three days before ovulation or on the day of ovulation. This is your most fertile time during your cycle.

After its release from the ovary, the mature egg will now travel through the fallopian tube towards your uterus. At this point, the hormone progesterone will increase to help estrogen thicken the lining of your uterus. The egg will live for 12 to 24 hours after it leaves your ovary. If your partner’s sperm fertilizes the egg, conception takes place. The fertilized egg will then embed and attach itself to the uterine wall, and you’ll have a baby in 40 weeks. When the mature egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels will drop and the lining of the uterus will start to break down. You will have your period, and the cycle starts all over again.

Signs of Ovulation

Because you are most fertile during the time you ovulate, it’s important that you pay attention to the subtle signs of ovulation. To improve your chances of making a baby, you will want to have sex the week that you ovulate. If you have a 28-day cycle, you will often ovulate on the 14th day (2 weeks after your period starts). If you don’t have the average 28-day cycle, you can calculate ovulation by figuring out when your next period is due and counting back 12 to 16 days.

If you’re not good at math, however, the easiest way to figure out when you’re ovulating is to pay attention to changes in your cervical mucus. During the course of your menstrual cycle, your cervical mucus will change in color, the amount of discharge, and the texture.

  • During week 1 of your menstrual cycle, you are having your period so you will experience menstrual bleeding.
  • After your period is over, you will be dry for several days. You are relatively infertile during this time.
  • Next, you will experience cloudy-colored mucus that has the consistency of sticky rice. You are still relatively infertile.
  • A few days before you ovulate, your cervical mucus will become clear and slippery, similar to the consistency of egg whites. You will have a lot of discharge. This is your fertile phase, so it’s baby-making time.
  • After ovulation, your mucus will go back to being sticky and cloudy colored. Then, you’ll experience vaginal dryness. You are relatively infertile during this time.


To check your cervical mucus, insert a clean finger into your vagina and reach toward the cervix. Examine some of the discharge on your finger. Roll what you find between two fingers and see how “stretchy” it is. You are very fertile when your cervical mucus stretches between your fingers for one inch without breaking.

In addition to checking your cervical mucus, you can also track your basal body temperature. After ovulation, your temperature will spike by 0.4 degree to 1.0 degree. You are most fertile in the two or three days before your temperature spikes. After the temperature rise, it may be too late to conceive a baby.

Commonly Asked Questions About Week 1

Q. Can you get pregnant if you have unprotected sex on your period?
A.
Your period doesn’t necessarily protect you against pregnancy. Although the risk of conception during your period is highly unlikely, there is always a small possibility.

You’re more likely to get pregnant on your period if you have a very short menstrual cycle and you end up ovulating early. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days (with ovulation taking place on day 14), but if you have a short cycle that’s 22 days long, for example, you may ovulate a few days after your period ends. Since sperm can stay alive in your body for as long as five days, pregnancy is theoretically possible under this circumstance.

Even if you don’t have a short menstrual cycle, there’s always a small chance of pregnancy if you happen to ovulate early. There are many factors that can affect when you ovulate, including stress, your overall health, lifestyle habits, medications you’re taking, etc.

Some women also experience spotting (light bleeding) between their periods. This can be mistaken for a regular period, especially in women who may have irregular periods. If you happen to spot right around the time of ovulation, and you end up having sex, you could get pregnant.

Q. I have unusually long cycles, lasting 35 to 38 days. My period comes “regularly” once a month. It’s been 42 days since my last period. I took a home pregnancy test, and the results were negative. What’s going on?
A
. There are several factors that may be at play. It’s possible that your ovulation was delayed this month – stress is the number factor. If ovulation occurred later than usual, this ultimately means your period will arrive a few days later than expected. If you took a home pregnancy test and the results were negative, then you should wait a few days. Your period may arrive when you least expect it.

On the other hand, if your period is late, there’s always a chance that you’re pregnant. Home pregnancy tests measure the level of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. This hormone is produced from the cells in the placenta, and it first enters your blood stream when the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. If you take a home pregnancy test too early, the levels of hCG in your urine may not be high enough to detected yet. The home pregnancy test may have a negative result, but you may actually be pregnant. Wait a few days, or perhaps a week, and take another test.

Q. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. I went off birth control two months ago, and I still haven’t had my period. Is there a chance that I’m pregnant?
A.
Yes, it is possible that you’re pregnant. You may have ovulated and already conceived. You won’t have your period if you’re already pregnant. If you haven’t already, take a home pregnancy test to confirm the results.

Sometimes, stopping the birth control pill can cause “post-pill amenorrhea” – a lack of periods for several months. Because the pill is a hormonal contraceptive, it works by stopping your body from producing the hormones involved in normal ovulation and menstruation. After you stop taking the pill, it may take some time before your body starts to produce these hormones again. Your period should start within three months after you stop using the birth control pill. Go see your doctor if you do not have a regular menstrual period after three months. You will also want to take a home pregnancy test to confirm that you aren’t pregnant.

Q. Before my last period was due, I had five days of pinkish discharge. Then, I bled relatively lightly for 3 days, which I took as my period. Since then, I’ve experienced a few early pregnancy symptoms – nausea, bloating, and breast tenderness. What’s going on?
A.
What you may have experienced is implantation bleeding – light bleeding that occurs 10 to 14 days after conception. It’s the result of the fertilized egg attaching itself to your uterine lining. Experts believe that implantation bleeding is due to blood leaking from the implanted egg into the uterine cavity. Also called implantation spotting, it usually only lasts a day or two. It should be light, but occasionally the flow can be similar to a menstrual period.

If you’re not sure if you’re pregnant, take a home pregnancy test to confirm. You may also want to head to the doctor to confirm that your bleeding isn’t due to a very early miscarriage. When in doubt, call your doctor.

Q. Can you have your menstrual period while you’re pregnant? Is that possible?
A.
No, it is not medically possible to have a menstrual period while you are pregnant. However, some women do experience vaginal bleeding during their pregnancy. This bleeding is not the same as menstrual bleeding. Do not confuse the two. Menstruation only occurs when you’re not pregnant; your body is shedding the uterine lining and egg that was not fertilized. If you are pregnant, you will not experience your period again until after your baby is born.

Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy can be serious, and it can be nothing to worry about. Sometimes, it’s due to implantation bleeding. Other times, it can be a sign of a serious complication – such as a miscarriage of an ectopic pregnancy. You should always call your doctor if you experience any bleeding at all. Play it safe.

Q. I’m still waiting for my period to come, but I’ve noticed that my basal body temperature has stayed high for the past two weeks. Does that mean I’m pregnant?
A.
An elevated basal body temperature that remains high for eighteen days after ovulation may be an early sign of pregnancy. You should take a home pregnancy test to confirm.

Pregnancy Week 2

Are you ready to conceive? You’re approaching your “fertile period” during pregnancy week 2. If you have the average 28-day cycle, you’ll ovulate at the end of the week (day 14 of your menstrual cycle). If you want to increase your chances of conception, you don’t have to wait until the day of ovulation. You can start being intimate and make love with your partner or husband right now. Women can be fertile for five days before and 24 hours after ovulation, and sperm can survive in your vagina and reproductive tract for up to five days after ejaculation.

It’s Baby Making Time

You will be ovulating by the end of pregnancy week 2, so if you want to try for a baby, this is the perfect week to try.

Aim to having intercourse once every 24 to 48 hours. A common misconception is that the more you make love, the better your chances of getting pregnant. This isn’t necessarily true. Having intercourse more than once a day can decrease your partner’s sperm count. If your partner already has a low sperm count, this can make it harder for you to conceive. For the best quality and quantity of sperm, you should wait 24 to 48 hours between having relations. But don’t wait too long between encounters either. Don’t make your partner abstain for more than seven days in a row. Abstinence can decrease the motility (swimming ability) of his sperm, and the longer he abstains, the stronger this effect will be.

{Helpful Tip}

Try to avoid using traditional lubricants. These can kill sperm and make conception more difficult, especially if your partner has a lower than average sperm count. There are sperm-friendly lubricants, such as Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant, which are designed to help couples trying to get pregnant.

While you’re trying to conceive, remember to have patience. Conception is a delicate process, so it may take a while before you successfully conceive. On the other hand, it can take one try and you’re pregnant. Just stay positive. An estimated 16 percent of all couples who are actively trying to conceive must wait 12 months before they get pregnant. If you’re under 30 years old and you have been trying to conceive for over a year without any luck, you may want to talk to a fertility specialist. If you’re over 30, it’s a good idea to see a specialist after six months.

{Helpful Tip}

Don’t douche, because douching changes the pH balance of your vagina. In order to survive, sperm needs the alkaline acid levels to be balanced. Douching also flushes out cervical fluid, which is required for sperm to have an easier “swim” towards the uterus.

Top 10 Misconceptions About Conception

When you’re trying to conceive, you may be inundated with unwanted advice, tips, and suggestions from your peers, family, and friends. Sometimes, one well-meaning person will say one thing that another person says is false. So, how do you separate fact from reality? Here are the top 10 misconceptions about conception.

  • 1. Drinking cough syrup can help you conceive.
    There’s no scientific data that supports this idea, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that this is worth a try. Guaifenesin, which is the main ingredient in many over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, may help you conceive by thinning your cervical mucus, which makes it easier for sperm to travel through your cervix and fertilize your egg.

    Guaifenesin is an expectorant, which means it helps relieve congestion in your lungs by liquefying the mucus, allowing you to cough it up and get it out of your body. Because guaifenesin works systemically (it affects your entire body), it affects your cervical mucus, too. For this conception trick to work properly, you will want to take it around the time that you ovulate.

    Make sure that you find a cough medicine in which guaifenesin is the only active ingredient. Mucinex and Robitussin are two medicines that contain this ingredient.

    Always consult your physician before taking any guaifensesin products.
  • 2. Your man shouldn’t wear briefs when you’re trying for a baby.
    The debate between boxers and briefs is a longstanding one, and personal preference usually takes precedence, but when you’re trying to conceive, boxers win. Wearing briefs can cause a man’s testes to overheat, which in turn can affect his sperm count. Low sperm count can make it harder for you to conceive. In order for a man’s testicles to produce sufficient quality and quantity of sperm required for successful conception, their temperature must be lower than the man’s core body temperature.

    To boost your chance of conception, you should ask your partner to wear boxer shorts at all times. Tight pants are also out of the question. He should also stay away from hot tubs and saunas, since these can also cause the testes to overheat. Make sure that he keeps his laptop off his lap as well. Research has shown that men who place their hot laptops directly on their laps can raise the temperature of the scrotum and decrease sperm production.
  • 3. Sperm can only stay alive for several hours in your reproductive tract.
    After ejaculation, sperm can live inside your cervix and reproductive tract for three to five days, possibly longer under the right conditions. Sperm requires a warm, moist environment to survive. For this reason, sperm that is ejaculated outside your body can only survive for a few minutes or a few hours. Once sperm is dry, it is dead.
  • 4. Eating wild yam improves your chances of getting pregnant.
    Wild yam – not to be confused with sweet potato yam – is an herb that some people believe will promote fertility. In the 1950s, scientists found that the root of wild yam contains a plant-based estrogen, which could be chemically converted into the hormone progesterone. (Progesterone is the hormone that thickens your uterine lining and gets it ready for pregnancy).

    Your body cannot naturally make progesterone from wild yam, however. This conversion can only be done in a laboratory setting. This makes wild yam ineffective for boosting your fertility.
  • 5. Lubricants help with sperm motility
    Traditional lubricants often work against your conception goals. Artificial lubricants contain ingredients and chemicals that are toxic to sperm, and they also alter the pH balance in your vagina. Under normal conditions, the acidity in the vagina kills off sperm, but right around ovulation, the vagina becomes more alkaline, providing a slightly friendlier environment for sperm. This natural pH balance is changed when you use artificial lubricants – because they typically have an acidic pH level. This can cause sperm death, and make it more difficult for you to conceive.

    In addition, the viscosity (thickness or gooeyness) of lubricants may slow down the motility (“swimming speed”) of sperm, so more of sperm end up die in the acidic environment of the vagina before they can reach your uterus. Currently, there is only one brand of lubricants on the market that doesn’t damage sperm. It’s called Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant.
  • 6. Green tea will boost your fertility
    Green tea has many potential health benefits – from fighting against cancer to protecting you against heart disease – and it may also give your fertility a helping hand. Green tea is full of beneficial chemicals called polyphenols, which act as antioxidants to protect your cells from damage. This antioxidant protection extends to your reproductive organs as well. Green tea’s polyphenols may help prevent cell damage to your reproductive organs, potentially making your eggs more viable.

    Very few research studies have examined the link between green tea and a woman’s fertility. In one small study, published in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, women were asked to take a supplement containing green tea extract, folic acid, chaste berry, and other vitamins and minerals. The women in the control group were given a placebo pill. After five months, one-third of the women taking the green tea supplement became pregnant while none of the control had conceived. This was a small study, and because there were other vitamins and nutrients involved, there is no way to pinpoint green tea’s role in the women’s pregnancy.

    Like with anything else, you should drink green tea in moderation. Green tea contains caffeine and tannic acid – both ingredients can cause fertility problems when you consume it in excess. On the bright side, green tea has less caffeine than coffee, and it may be a good alternative to coffee for women trying to conceive.
  • 7. You’ll get pregnant if you just stop worrying about it.
    When you’re trying to conceive, you probably have many well-meaning friends and family members telling you to stop worrying about conception, and just relax. Although this is excellent advice, there is no clinical evidence that indicates that conception will be hindered by a little worry or anxiety. Extreme stress, however, can affect your ability to ovulate and can definitely interfere with healthy fertility.

    The exact link between stress and fertility problems is a mystery to scientists, but a growing body of research suggests that stress hormones – cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) – may play a role. Cortisol and adrenaline are the “fight or flight” response produced by your adrenal glands when you’re stressed. Cortisol is made from progesterone, which is the hormone that thickens the uterine lining to prepare it to receive the fertilized egg. When there are high levels of cortisol in your body (from excessive stress), your body will “steal” progesterone to make cortisol. As a result, you won’t have enough progesterone in order to easily conceive.

    For this reason, it’s a good idea for you to try to relax when you’re trying to conceive. You may want to exercise on a regular basis, or find another relaxation technique to help you enjoy the process of babymaking.
  • 8. To conceive faster, you should make love in the morning.
    Timing does matter when it comes to conception, but the time of the month (ovulation) matters more than when you have sex. No matter if you have sex in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning, you can still get pregnant. But if you are having trouble conceiving, you may want to have sex in the morning. Research studies have suggested that a man’s sperm count is higher in the morning.
  • 9. You should only have sex every other day.
    Again, the time of month that you engage in sexual intercourse matters more than the frequency of sex. You have a higher chance of conceiving when you’re ovulating, but don’t get obsess over having sex on the exact moment of ovulation. Just enjoy baby making with your partner during pregnancy week 2 – when you’re most fertile.

    Research suggests that the more often you have sex, the greater your chances of getting pregnant. You may not want to have sex more than once every 24 hours however, since this can diminish the quantity of sperm outputted with each ejaculation. For the best chances, you’ll want to have sex every 24 to 48 hours. This gives him plenty of time to replenish his supply.
  • 10. Something is wrong with you if you don’t get pregnant right away.
    Be patient. Getting pregnant takes time, and unfortunately, no one can predict how long it can take before you finally conceive. For 59 percent of couples who are actively trying, they conceive within three months. Only 30 percent will get pregnant within the first menstrual cycle, and around 85 percent of couples will get pregnant within one year.

    You shouldn’t worry unless you’ve been actively trying to get pregnant for over one year (12 menstrual cycles). After a year, you may want to seek the help of a fertility specialist. If you’re over age 35, you may want to get help sooner – within six months of trying to conceive.

Early Pregnancy Signs

Once you have conceived after a few weeks you may start noticing several early signs of pregnancy. These vary from woman to woman and can be quite tricky, but generally include:
  • Increasing fatigue
  • Missed or late period
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Increased breast sensitivity
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Metal tasting mouth
  • Ovulation pain and mild cramping


Commonly Asked Questions about Week 2

  • Q. I had a miscarriage five weeks ago. How long should I wait before trying for another baby?
    A.
    Having a miscarriage is a heartbreaking experience, so it’s best if you take your time to recover physically and emotionally from this traumatic event. There is no perfect amount of time that you need to wait, but most experts highly recommend that you wait at least a few months. Some doctors recommend that you wait six months before attempting again, but other physicians don’t feel that there is a medical reason to wait so long.

    How long you wait depends on you and your partner. You need to be emotionally ready for another baby, and your uterus needs time to recover. Don’t rush into trying for another baby. Allow yourself time to grieve and heal first.
  • Q. Can you still get pregnant if you don’t have an orgasm?
    A.
    Yes, you can still conceive even if you don’t have an orgasm. However, if you’ve been having trouble conceiving, an orgasm can help improve your chances of a baby. During a female orgasm, your pelvic muscles, vagina and uterus have rhythmic contractions – which helps carry sperm into the cervix. When you don’t orgasm during sex, you will retain less semen.

    Keep in mind that a man ejaculates between 200 and 500 million sperm. As long as you have sex during your fertile period, your risk of getting pregnant is high, regardless of whether you had an orgasm or not. Orgasms help, but they don’t stop you from getting pregnant.
  • Q. I’ve been using ovulation prediction kits, but they have all been negative. Did this mean I didn’t ovulate this month?
    A.
    Maybe. There are a number of possible reasons why you didn’t see a positive test result in this menstrual cycle, one of them being that a LH surge did not occur (you didn’t ovulate this month). You can also get negative results if you used the test too early or too late in your cycle. (This is often the case with women with longer than average menstrual cycles). Negative results can also occur if you did not correctly follow the instructions in the package insert of your ovulation prediction kit. Sometimes, there may be a kit error, which means that you did have a LH surge but the kit didn’t detect it.

    In the event that you don’t ovulate that month, you may notice that your period is missing that month. Sometimes, you can still bleed without ovulating, but your flow will be different than normal. It may be lighter, or heavier than your regular menstrual bleeding.
  • Q. How safe is dieting when you’re trying to conceive?
    A.
    If you’re overweight and trying to conceive, dieting is perfectly safe. (You do not want to start dieting once you have conceived, however.) Your chances of conception are higher if you are close to your ideal weight. Even losing a few pounds can boost your likelihood of pregnancy.

    For your overall health, you will want to choose a diet that focuses on “good” carbs – whole grain breads, pastas, and rice. Make sure you also include lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Eating whole grains and drinking plenty of water can make you feel full.

    When losing weight, aim to shed those pounds slowly. One or two pounds a week is the safest way to go when you’re trying to conceive. Fast weight loss is not recommended, since it depletes your body of its nutritional stores – which can be detrimental in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Q. Is there a certain body type that’s associated with increased fertility?
    A.
    Fertile women come in all sizes and shapes. But there is an interesting study from Harvard University, published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society, which suggests that women with narrow waists and large breasts are three times more likely to be fertile than women with other body shapes. These women have higher levels of progesterone and the hormone 17-b-estradiol (estrogen) – the female hormone that plays a crucial role in conception. Estradiol is believed to cause the LH surge during ovulation.

    You cannot control your body shape. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant. To boost your chances of conception, focus on staying healthy and eating right.

 

 

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